Thursday Afternoon Federal Newscast

The inspector general of the National Archives and Records Administration is investigating a potential data breach affecting tens of millions of records about U.S. military veterans, Wired.com has learned. The issue involves a defective hard drive the agency sent back to its vendor for repair and recycling without first destroying the data.

Cisco is looking to buy Tandberg. The Financial Times says Cisco is ready to shell out 3 billion dollars for the Norwegian videoconferencing company, throwing down another challenge to Microsoft as it pushes deeper into the online collaboration business. The acquisition is the largest since the US network equipment maker’s 3.2 billion dollar cash purchase of online collaboration company Webex in 2007, and is set to round out its portfolio of video, messaging and other collaboration tools.

The October 1 deadline is here, and the federal government is operating under a continuing resolution. That means the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act has not been approved. The act appropriates money to the Department of Veterans Affairs for Fiscal Year 2010. But it’s tied to the budget, which hasn’t passed. Veterans groups say this means thousands of VA hospitals are unable to plan ahead and address their staffing and equipment needs.

The Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan has issued a special report on contractors. The Commission says that one sentence in federal law prevents the State Department from hiring the best security contractors for embassies and other Foreign Service buildings. That sentence requires the State Department to use a “lowest price, technically acceptable” standard in awarding the contracts. The commission says it should be changed to “best value.”

The House is backing the Obama administration’s refusal to release new photos showing U.S. personnel abusing detainees held overseas. The vote also put lawmakers on record in favor of making sure detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison do not get immigration benefits. President Barack Obama has already said he would use every available means to block release of additional detainee abuse photos because they could whip up anti-American sentiment overseas and endanger U.S. Troops. (AP)

What’s the best way to save taxpayer dollars? If you have ideas, OMB wants to know about it. The Office of Management and Budget has launched the President’s Save Award – a contest for feds to come up with the best idea to save tax dollars and make the government perform more efficiently. The contest started last week, they already have more than 10,000 entries, and there are still two weeks left if you want to enter.

Other News Links

Treasury Kicks Off Toxic-Asset Program (Washington Post)

Officials outline challenges in joining procurement databases (Federal Times)

Diplomat Is Fired in Clash Over Addressing Afghan Vote Fraud (Washington Post)

Patent Office Weighs Ways To Cut Growing Backlog (Washington Post)

VA to continue work on energy efficiency (GovExec)

DHS establishes office for intelligence-sharing centers (FCW)

IT consolidation will improve services, Kundra says (FCW)

A lesson on what not to do with data when repurposing IT equipment (GCN)

Making Choices: A Strategic Approach to New Media (AIDS.gov)

And Finally

Student Veterans Can Apply For Emergency Aid Online (Washington Post)

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